Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Tehran Rebuffs U.S. Overtures

Iran’s dismissive response to U.S. attempts at engagement will likely isolate it even further, much to the detriment of Middle East stability.

Print Friendly

(Inter Press Service)

While most countries in the world welcome Washington’s conciliatory message towards Iran, some analysts in the region are skeptical.

Referring to U.S. President Barack Obama’s video message on the occasion of the Iranian New Year last week, Christian Koch of the Gulf Research Center (GRC) said Washington’s opening to Iran is a step in the right direction, but  once again Tehran is likely to miss this opportunity for rapprochement.

‘‘Obama’s gesture introduced the critical element of public diplomacy by addressing the people and leaders of Iran jointly, finally acknowledging that trying to drive a wedge between Iran’s leaders and people is unproductive,’’ Koch, director of international studies at the Dubai-based think tank, told IPS.

‘‘Unfortunately, given the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s dismissal of the message,” Koch added, “the likely result is the further isolation of Iran to the detriment of regional security.’’

In an attempt to end three decades of U.S.-Iran strain that has also affected other countries in the region, Obama stressed that his administration is committed to ‘‘diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues’’ and to pursuing ‘‘constructive ties among the United States, Iran, and the international community.’’

This process, Obama said, ‘‘will not be advanced by threats. We seek, instead, engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect.’’The U.S. president indicated that  this type of relationship “cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization.’’

However, Khamenei dismissed  Obama’s overtures, saying there will be no change unless the president-elect ends U.S. hostility toward Iran and ensures “real changes” in foreign policy.Iran has repeatedly sought a U.S. apology for past grievances and an end to allegations that it is seeking to produce nuclear arms.

According to independent Kuwaiti political analyst Ali Jaber Al-Sabah, , Khamenei’s reaction is symptomatic of Iran’s history of intransigence. and closely linked to its nuclear program, seen as a serious threat to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

‘‘The U.S. attempt to make a new beginning with Iran will yield the same old results—defiance and non-cooperation. Iran will never abandon its nuclear program,’’ the Kuwait-based political analyst  Al-Sabah told IPS,. “Iran will never abandon its nuclear program,’’ For this reason, Iran continues to be perceived  as a serious threat by member-states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

Explaining the difference between the approaches adopted by the George Bush and Obama administrations, Al-Sabah said: ‘‘While the means are different, the end is the same. Just as Obama made a video address, it is possible that he would make a similar speech sooner or later announcing a real ‘action’ plan in response to Tehran’s inflexibility.’’

GRC’s Koch said: ‘’The past few years have made it clear that the current leadership in Tehran is not interested in true negotiations. Rather, its sole objective is to buy time to avoid making any concessions on the nuclear front. Ultimately, this is a dead-end road.’’

The international relations expert explained that ‘‘just as Gulf security cannot be accomplished without Iran, neither can it be constructed around an Iran that seeks to institutionalize its dominance over its neighbors. Any development in U.S.-Iran relations needs to be viewed within the larger context of regional Gulf security.’’

Koch added that Obama’s message is completely in line with the interests of GCC countries. ‘‘There is no appetite in the Gulf for another conflict and the GCC leaders have consistently stressed  ties based on mutual respect and the non-interference in internal affairs.’’

Koch cited several examples  of what he describes as Iran’s failure to take advantage of chances to build a constructive regional relationship: leaving unresolved the issue of the three islands of Abu Mussa and Greater and Lesser Tunbs with the UAE, failing to join the Saudi-proposed Arab peace initiative on the Arab-Israeli conflict,  and responding inadequately  to Riyadh’s proposal for a joint regional nuclear enrichment consortium.

Although  conceding that talks between Iran and its neighbors on these issues “just prolong the agony of the GCC countries,” Al-Sabah said  that talking remains “an essential part of the process towards any end. Even if it is bound to fail, it lends credibility to subsequent action.’’ 

And attempts at political rapprochement recently suffered  an additional setback. In February, a member of Iran’s powerful Expediency Council  reportedly  said that Bahrain was once Iran’s 14th province. This provocative statement was widely condemned in the Arab world. Iran’s aggressive military intent may be less worrying for now, but deep-rooted suspicion of Iran is widespread among GCC countries.

However, some observers remain optimistic. Mehran Kamrava, director of the Center for International and Regional Studies at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar, told IPS that Khamenei’s response to Obama “was carefully crafted and non-ideological. The next stage of improving the tense atmospherics will depend on the outcome of Iran’s presidential elections in June. Depending on the outcome of those elections, the Americans may initiate more concrete steps toward engaging Iran in a dialogue.”

Meena Janardhan writes for the Inter Press Service.

Citations

By Meena Janardhan, "Tehran Rebuffs U.S. Overtures" Right Web with permission from Inter Press Service (Somerville, MA: PRA, 2009). Web location:
http://rightweb.irc-online.org/rw/4995.html Production Information:
Author(s): Right Web
Editor(s): Right Web
Production: Political Research Associates   IRC logo 1310 Broadway, #201, Somerville, MA   02144 | pra@publiceye.org

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), former chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, is a leading ”pro-Israel” hawk in Congress.


Brigette Gabriel, an anti-Islamic author and activist, is the founder of the right-wing group ACT! for America.


The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), one of the more effective U.S. lobbying outfits, aims to ensure that the United States backs Israel regardless of the policies Israel pursues.


Frank Gaffney, director of the hardline neoconservative Center for Security Policy, is a longtime advocate of aggressive U.S. foreign policies, bloated military budgets, and confrontation with the Islamic world.


Shmuley Boteach is a “celebrity rabbi” known for his controversial “pro-Israel” advocacy.


United against Nuclear Iran is a pressure group that attacks companies doing business in Iran and disseminates alarmist reports about the country’s nuclear program.


Huntsman, the millionaire scion of the Huntsman chemical empire, is a former Utah governor who served as President Obama’s first ambassador to China and was a candidate for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly

AIPAC has done more than just tolerate the U.S. tilt toward extreme and often xenophobic views. Newly released tax filings show that the country’s biggest pro-Israel group financially contributed to the Center for Security Policy, the think-tank that played a pivotal role in engineering the Trump administration’s efforts to impose a ban on Muslim immigration.


Print Friendly

It would have been hard for Trump to find someone with more extreme positions than David Friedman for U.S. ambassador to Israel.


Print Friendly

Just as the “bogeyman” of the Mexican rapist and drug dealer is used to justify the Wall and mass immigration detention, the specter of Muslim terrorists is being used to validate gutting the refugee program and limiting admission from North Africa, and Southwest and South Asia.


Print Friendly

Although the mainstream media narrative about Trump’s Russia ties has been fairly linear, in reality the situation appears to be anything but.


Print Friendly

Reagan’s military buildup had little justification, though the military was rebuilding after the Vietnam disaster. Today, there is almost no case at all for a defense budget increase as big as the $54 billion that the Trump administration wants.


Print Friendly

The very idea of any U.S. president putting his personal financial interests ahead of the U.S. national interest is sufficient reason for the public to be outraged. That such a conflict of interest may affect real U.S. foreign policy decisions is an outrage.


Print Friendly

The new US administration is continuing a state of war that has existed for 16 years.


RightWeb
share